Kampala, Uganda | URN | The Ministry of Health has hired a company from India to install GPS trackers in all government ambulances.
The development comes amidst misuse of the ambulances that became more pronounced during the COVID-19 pandemic where several reports indicated drivers were carrying non-patients amidst transport restrictions.
Dr. John Baptist Waniaye, the Commissioner Emergency Services in the ministry told this publication on Monday 13, September 2021 that by end of last week, trackers had been installed on five ambulances though he couldn’t divulge how much it will cost them.
He says this move that comes shortly after a government ambulance was recently stolen in Arua district is targeted to cover over 300 ambulances owned by the government. So far, there are conflicting reports from intelligence about the whereabouts of the stolen car, where some say it’s in DR Congo and others say it is being used in the country.
Recently, Dr. Waniaye said they had been faced with the challenge of drivers siphoning fuel, and yet in some places even with patients aboard, they tend to add passengers something that is unacceptable.
Meanwhile, while the ministry has deployed free ambulances on several spots across the city and two ambulances and others along highways that are hotspots for accidents, reports of people being irregularly charged to use the ambulances have been reported.
But Dr. Waniaye says slowly, they are coming up with solutions to the problem with increased surveillance, and also soon they will have a hospital specifically handling emergencies especially those that are arising from trauma and accidents. He says this will make their monitoring for efficiency easy.
Already, records by the ministry show that 70% of their ambulance fleet operate within Kampala city.
Meanwhile, it should be noted that it’s only recently with the onset of the COVID-19 pandemic that government had an increase in the number of ambulances, as before 2020, they only operated with less than 200 ambulances.